Amidst the slew of new electric vehicles that have been introduced in the last few years, one thing has been largely missing: a third row. SUVs and crossovers with room for more than five passengers are wildly popular, but if you don’t want to burn fossil fuels, your options have been limited.
Hyundai and Kia have plans to change that, though. In advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show, which starts tomorrow, the two companies each unveiled concepts that hint at all-new, three-row electric SUVs bound for the US in 2024. Hyundai teased the Ioniq Seven, the second model in a new electric-only sub-brand it’s launching. Meanwhile, Kia gave us a peek at the EV9, a boxy big brother to the curvy EV6.
In keeping with recent Hyundai and Kia designs, the two vehicles look quite different, despite being based on the same E-GMP platform. Yet they share enough details to feel part of the same family.
Though softer than the bluff Kia EV9, the Ioniq Seven concept is unmistakably an SUV. Unlike the smaller Ioniq 5, which resembles a hot hatch, the Seven is tall and long, with squared-off wheel arches and overhangs that are short up front and long in the back. The arcing roofline terminates at a thick D-pillar, making it look like a tall Audi A7 from some angles. Ioniq’s Parametric Pixel lighting scheme emphasizes the vehicle’s sizable dimensions front and rear, and there’s even a little dash of retro light on the front doors and above the wheels.
Large coach doors—probably not destined for production—open to reveal a curving sofa-like bench, two captain’s chairs, and an ottoman, all swathed in fabric and trimmed with copper-colored accents. And while panoramic sunroofs are de rigueur these days, the Seven eschews it in favor of a large OLED display. Other interior trim is made up of bamboo, mineral plaster, and “bio resin” (whatever that is), and once passengers leave, the inside can be sterilized with UV-C light. Oh, and there’s also a mini-fridge and “shoe care compartments” to “refresh passengers’ footwear” in case your kicks aren’t, um, fresh. There’s no steering wheel—this concept drives itself—but there is retractable control stick.
Kia went for a more rugged look with the EV9 concept, choosing more angular shoulders, a flat roof, and a more upright windshield. Gloss-black rocker panels and wheel arches hint at some off-roading ability, even though most owners won’t venture much beyond a gravel driveway. The overall design echoes the Telluride, which is not a bad thing.
Inside the coach doors, the middle seats can fold flat to serve as a table, and the front seats can swivel around when the car is stopped. Seating is made from recycled plastic bottles and wool fibers, and the floor carpet is made from recycled fishnets. Unlike with the Seven, there’s no mention of an autonomous mode—drivers will have to grab hold of the yoke. A wide, 27-inch display gives the driver a seamless screen to view speed, range, and infotainment.
The Hyundai is targeting at least 300 miles of range for the Seven, and the boxier Kia EV9 concept will travel up to 300 miles before needing a charge. Those aren’t Lucid Air-beating numbers, but Hyundai and Kia are betting people won’t mind since 350 kW fast charging should bring the battery from 10 percent to 80 percent in as little as 20 minutes.